Five scions of Marwari business families set up angel fund to help startups
KOLKATA: What successive Lead Bengal campaigns of Mamata Banerjee couldn't achieve, five very educated young Marwari sons-of businessmen have. They have gone against the universal trend in Bengal and reposed faith in this state, sans any political agenda.
Scions of five very wealthy Marwari business families — the Kanorias, Salarpurias, Dalmias, Patodias and Kayans — have formed an angel investment group, christened Calcutta Angels, to encourage and enable start-ups to take off. Taking a cue from Mumbai Angels — a first-of-its-kind initiative launched in 2006 by Sasha Mirchandani and Prashant Choksey with which they have a strategic tie-up — the Kolkata group of angels has apparently been enthused by reports from their Mumbai counterparts about substantial number of "great ideas" being generated in the east quite regularly.
What is more is that a lot many of these prospective entrepreneurs have been regularly going to Mumbai Angels in the hope of getting some hand holding. That, according to Calcutta Angels, was the inspiration for setting up this non-profit organization. The families they come from, as indeed almost every industry family in the state, would have perhaps wanted them to do otherwise.
There is such an overwhelming skepticism about Bengal's industrial future that most have either lost completely, or are in the process of losing hope. Quite a few are also said to be looking for opportunities elsewhere in the country. One prominent industrialist confessed: "I don't think this state will witness a new industry anytime soon. Work on projects, which had begun years ago, is still on but there is no fresh development here. Those who have land in Bengal, like me, have decided to put plans on hold. What is the point? The state government's attitude is discouraging."
But where the dads may have lost hope, these young men haven't. And mind you, almost all of them are modern, supremely confident and highly educated guys who have just about started on their life's journey. By choosing to facilitate start-ups to emerge as future business leaders, the group is actually doing a huge service to the state, because if some of their mentored units become really big names some day, they will only showcase Bengal's stature in the industry world. One hopes that Mamata Banerjee's government recognises the service. Raghav Kanoria, one of the five, is an MBA from Leeds University.
Apurva Salarpuria is a chartered accountant, Pradyumna Dalmia an MBA from London Business School and an economics grad from the University of London. Kumar Patodia is a Summa Cum Laude from the University of Pennsylvania where he did his graduation in Economics (Finance and Operations and Information Management) from Wharton School and a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the university's School of Arts and Sciences. Rahul Kayan is a finance and marketing grad from the Stern School of Business, New York University. Never before perhaps has merit of this calibre joined hands to foster business in Bengal.